Dirty Snow

Dirty Snow

by Tom Wayman


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Dirty Snow by Tom Wayman

Tom Wayman's newest collection of poems, Dirty Snow, unflinchingly considers the impact of the Afghan War: its absence and presence in Canadians' everyday lives as citizens of a nation at war.

The collection explores Wayman's view that Canada's military intervention in a civil war between two odious sets of combatants has degraded Canadians' quality of life by, among other means, the conflict's relentless absorption of public funds in pursuit of dubious ends.

Wayman is also concerned with echoes of the Afghan War in the personal sphere, particularly the war's effect on the natural world in the mountain valleys of southeastern BC where the author makes his home.

Dirty Snow reveals how life in wartime taints our perception of the landscape, and how the natural cycles provide solace despite the moral and economic quagmires in which the inhabitants of the twenty-first century are attempting to conduct their lives.

From the drone of bagpipes on Kandahar Airfield to jet bombers dropping Canadian schools and hospitals on far-flung Afghan villages, Wayman is a master of potent imagery, approaching his subject with a voice that is passionate and dark, all interwoven with prose introductions, allowing readers the sense that they are present at one of Wayman's engaging public readings.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781550175868
Publisher: Harbour Publishing Company, Limited
Publication date: 03/16/2012
Pages: 112
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Tom Wayman was born in Ontario in 1945, but has spent most of his life in British Columbia. He has worked at a number of jobs, both blue and white-collar, across Canada and the U.S., and has helped bring into being a new movement of poetry in these countries--the incorporation of the actual conditions and effects of daily work. His poetry has been awarded the Canadian Authors' Association medal for poetry, the A.J.M. Smith Prize, first prize in the USA Bicentennial Poetry Awards competition, and the Acorn-Plantos Award; in 2003 he was shortlisted for the Governor-General's Literary Award. He has published more than a dozen collections of poems, six poetry anthologies, three collections of essays and three books of prose fiction. He has taught widely at the post-secondary level in Canada and the U.S., most recently (2002-2010) at the University of Calgary. Since 1989 he has been the Squire of "Appledore," his estate in the Selkirk Mountains of southeastern BC.

Read an Excerpt


A dropped school falls through air,

turning slowly as debris

pours from windows: a contrail of papers and books

streams upwards thousands of metres

alongside computers, chairs, desks that tumble amid

woodworking equipment, lockers, maps,

basketballs, stage curtains

all aimed

toward tiny huts far below--a brushy hillside's

cluster of subsistence farms

reportedly harboring armed men: fenced yards

with a few chickens, one cow, an ancient horse eyeing

six rows of parched vegetables.

Above the school

while it descends,

another follows, and beyond that, nearly invisible,

a third floats as the fighter-bomber arcs

away, and a second jet drones into position.

The pilot of the first, now on the mission's homeward leg,

reaches down in his cockpit

toward a thermos of hot coffee.

On the ground, hospitals released

in the initial attack wave

erupt sequentially into plumes of fire and dust

as the buildings land: operating tables,

obstetric wards, wheelchairs shatter into shrapnel,

the jagged particles racing outward amid the roiling smoke

to slice through mud walls, animal flesh, stone fences,

human lives that cling to the shaking

shuddering earth

while they clutch forty-year-old rifles

or axes, or the hand of a two-year-old

below the flash of wing

very distant

in the blue-and-white sky.

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